Wednesday, December 4, 2013

“It is simply a dark day in the developing history of our efforts to protect the middle class” –Dan Montgomery, President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers

December 3, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Just 24 hours after receiving a 325-page bill, Illinois lawmakers convened in Springfield today to vote on pension-slashing legislation that robs teachers and public employees who have served our state and faithfully made their pension contributions. Despite vocal opposition from numerous lawmakers, enormous outcry from our members, and vehement testimony from the IFT and members of the We Are One Illinois coalition, legislative leaders called the unfair, unconstitutional pension theft proposal for a vote.

After hours of heated debate, the bill attacking the working class and retired public servants passed with the minimum votes necessary in the Senate (30-24-3) and in the House (62-53-1). It is rumored that Governor Quinn plans to sign this measure as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday). If and when he does, the IFT will join our union partners in an aggressive challenge to this measure in court.

This battle has been long and hard fought, starting as far back as the 1970s when our union brought to court a lawsuit demanding that state politicians and budget architects make the pension payment, in full, every year. Over the last several years, the IFT and other public sector unions have beat back draconian attempts to cut pension benefits for current employees and retirees.

The battle for fairness, dignity, and security in retirement doesn’t stop with today’s legislative action. It is simply a dark day in the developing history of our efforts to protect the middle class.

Our efforts together are not in vain. Working Americans are engaged in a fight for a fair economy, strong education system, and a dignified retirement for committed educators and public employees. We will continue to fight against efforts to take people’s retirement security when they need it the most, after they have worked hard and earned those benefits. For more than two years, your efforts have made a significant impact.

Together, we’ve engaged in hundreds of meetings, countless rallies, hundreds of thousands of e-mails, letters, and phone calls to legislators. And frankly, when you look at the votes, you’ll find that even during our defeat today, there are a number of legislators who’ve stuck with us. I encourage you to take a look at the vote in the House and Senate and PLEASE, take the time to thank your legislator if he or she voted NO on this bill. Your “thanks” goes a long way and makes a big impact in future efforts.

If your legislator voted “YES,” he or she should hear from you as well. Politicians should know that you’re paying attention – before, during, and after their votes.

IFT and the We Are One Illinois coalition will release additional details as soon as they become available. Governor Pat Quinn likes to say, “Let the will of the people be the law of the land.” Well, the law of the land is the Illinois Constitution, not the politics of Springfield. Thanks for all your efforts. In Solidarity,

Dan Montgomery
President, Illinois Federation of Teachers

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